You are most likely to recognise the face of Ben Milbourne from when he first hit our TV screens back in 2012 in the hugely successful cooking show MasterChef. A proud Tasmanian, Ben has once again become a regular on Australian TV with the launch of a new season of his acclaimed food tourism show, Left Off the Map.
We take a macadamia moment with Ben Milbourne from his kitchen in Tasmania.
What’s your favourite place to eat anywhere in the world?
Right now it’s a place in Hobart (Tasmania) called Sunny – that’s the restaurant I go to most. I also love the restaurant in Hobart where I’m Culinary Curator, called Peacock and Jones. I love eating the food we have on the menu there. Third behind that would be at my kitchen table at home with my kids. I love to cook them the food I grew up with, like spaghetti and meatballs, tacos, stir fries and pasta. When I’m working in the restaurant my wife will sometimes bring the kids in before our service starts, and they get to sit up at the bar and sample what’s on the menu that night. They score the food out of 10 – they’re my toughest critics!
What ingredients have you really been enjoying lately?
I absolutely love the stone fruit season, especially cherries, white peaches and nectarines. It only runs for around eight weeks of the year but I make the most of that time. I’ve been eating about three white peaches a day. I love to finely grate macadamias over them – it almost melts as it hits the peach. It’s kind of like a sweet parmesan, and it’s surprising how much you can grate from one nut.
Why do you love macadamia nuts?
They are just so incredibly versatile. Macadamias work equally well in sweet and savoury dishes. They can be used raw for a delicate flavour and a soft crunch or roasted to achieve a more intense noisette flavour with a cleaner break. They coat your mouth differently depending on whether they’re raw or roasted.
What’s one ingredient you can’t live without?
Citrus and vinegars – in other words, the acid in a dish. Acid is overlooked as a seasoning because most people don’t think of it like that. But if you’re going to add the amount of oil that I add to a dish, you need something to balance it and that’s where acid comes in. It ensures you don’t feel like you’re eating overly rich food.
What’s your favourite movie or TV show?
My favourite TV show is The Good Place, and I love Marvel movies.
If you were an ice cream, what flavour would you be?
I’d be a lemon sorbet. I like eating refreshing foods. When I travelled through Portugal, Spain and Mexico filming Andy & Ben Eat the World (a show Ben made with best mate and 2012 MasterChef winner Andy Allen) we ate a lot and I hated getting to the end of a day feeling uncomfortably full. That’s where I learned about adding lemon or lime wedges to a meal. I could eat so much more because I didn’t feel completely stuffed!
All images courtesy of Ben Milbourne and Cultivate Productions